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The Everest Journals.  #6.  Everest Base Camp; Apr. 12, 2005.

“Perseverance is Everything” By: Mike Swarbrick



Shaunna and Ben climbed “easily” to camp one and back this morning, passing many slower climbers in the infamous Khumbu ice fall on their way. They feel strong. They are acclimatizing well to the harsh, high altitude conditions. I think they feed from each other’s strengths. Both are motivated. They are a team. They love Nature. They thrive in wild places. They are an inspiration to me.

     There are, however, a great many other people here at 17,600’, whom I’ve met, that don’t seem to have the same kind of “right stuff” that I recognize in them. So, what is it that drives “ordinary” people to climb these mountains? I think the answer to this question is probably as diverse as asking. Why do people create art? Or; why do people sing? Why do some of us feel a need to write, visit wild places, ski the slopes, navigate the oceans, or simply dance? Each of us have our own reasons for doing what we do, but climbing in dangerous places, to me, seems to be something a little bit beyond the realm of the average, well adjusted civilized human condition. To put oneself purposely in the path of such extreme conditions and inherent physical danger is in fact a little beyond me. 


 I have spent much of my adult life running big whitewater as a professional river-guide, so you would think that I would have some inkling as to why these people, climbers in general, put themselves at such great risk in order to achieve some personal satisfaction or monetary goal; but I don’t. When I look up at these staggeringly high, rugged Himalayan  peaks, I quite simply see a place of extraordinary beauty that one’s natural, evolutionary, self preserving instincts  would ultimately want to avoid. Yet here they are, nineteen diverse teams, going up and down the dangerous Khumbu Ice-Fall almost daily for the next five weeks to acclimatize their bodies in order to survive in an environment so harsh that human life cannot exist for more than a short period of time, and for what? A glimpse from the top of the World? A personal best in physical achievement? A life long goal inspired early by reading about the great adventurers of our time? The monetary gains and celebratory status brought on by such rare achievements?

     Of course, it’s all of the above, and most certainly for as many other reasons as there are climbers on the hill, artists in the studio, writers at there desks, campers in the campground, skiers on the slopes, sailors on the Sea and dancers on the floor. Each of us are motivated in our own special way to achieve our personal best. Who am I to generalize. Why should I care what drives people. What really matters most, is each individual’s own personal reasons, their own personal goals. This is what makes us all unique and interesting. Each of us has the ability to set our own minds, master our own demons and use whatever motivating principals we find necessary to persevere and achieve our own unique dreams. No matter how difficult they may seem, they are all achievable.  My Mother told me for years that “perseverance is everything”…Now I understand.  

Go get em’ kid’s.

Quite simply yours,


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